Priorities and keeping up with the Jonses

Thursday, July 19, 2007



Tribune Sports Staff

Just so you'll know this is probably going to irritate some people, but here goes. First a question…why is it necessary for kids below the age of high school baseball to need full uniforms?

I mean seriously, what do you really need to play a game of baseball other than a bat, a ball and some gloves (and if you've got some tough hands, you can leave off the gloves). You're not talking about a sport like football which requires pads to keep a kid from getting hurt. This is baseball.

Now, of course, I'm all for batting helmets. We had those when I was a kid. But one thing we didn't have was the full uniforms we see today, even at the lowest levels. And my question is, once again,….why?

When I was a kid in the early 1960's I played baseball just like every other boy around Wynne. At that time Wynne was about the size of Marked Tree, Lepanto and Tyronza combined with about 5000 people. As such, we had our own leagues. We didn't need to leave the city limits and therefore we didn't need to impress anyone, which I think is one huge reason uniforms are the norm.

Sure, the kids look cute running around like a bunch of miniature Ruths, Aarons, Benchs or Bonds. But the way I understand it, there are many kids who can't afford to pay $40.00 to $75.00 to play then buy a full uniform and cleats all of which I'm sure are not cheap.

In Wynne we had to pay a participation fee and that was it. The coach got a sponsor who bought t-shirts and we wore jeans and tennis shoes. I realize this may be shocking today, but I venture to say that we played just as good of a brand of baseball as any similar-aged kids today.

And since I'm venting, in the 60's and even into the late 80's games were not played on Wednesday nights much less on Sundays. Now, its becoming routine for games to be played any day.

I won't go much farther than this because I know this is getting on shaky ground. However, I do want to say that I recently saw an example of some coaches and kids who had their priorities right.

Wynne, where I still live, was hosting the regional American Legion tournament two weekends ago and a set of those games was being played on Sunday. When I came out of Sunday School for church that morning, I noticed some visitors on the back pew.

It turned out that it was six players and two coaches from the Mountain Home team which was in town to play. I talked to them a minute and found out that virtually the whole team was in church somewhere in Wynne that day. Many were of other faiths so they went to the church of their faith.

Incidents like this make a person think that there's still hope for the world today. For the fact that they were in church alone, I told them, since Wynne had already lost, I was going to be rooting for them.

Like I said, in my opinion, they had their priorities in the right order. I think it's time that parents, coaches and administrators get their's in the right order as well. Bring back the t-shirts.

Anyway, that's my opinion this week, for what it's worth.

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